Opera VPN review | A free service, but, it'll cost your privacy (2023)

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Opera VPN is a VPN service that works with the fifth most popular browser in the world, Opera has always maintained a small but loyal fan base. This is in large part due to it pioneering cutting-edge technologies that are actually useful, such as Opera Turbo (compression technology designed to speed up web browsing) and built-in ad-blocking.

Given that Opera acquired Canadian VPN service SurfEasy last year, it is hardly surprising that Opera has decided to integrate VPN technology into its flagship browser. According to Steve Kelly, Vice President of Marketing at Opera, the reason for the move is to improve users’ privacy and security.

Everyone deserves to surf privately online if they want to. Today, it is too difficult to maintain privacy when using the web, and way too many people experience roadblocks online, like blocked content. By releasing an integrated, free and unlimited VPN in the browser, we make it simple for people to enhance their privacy and access the content they want.

Pricing and Features

It is 100% free to use the VPN bundled with Opera, and there are no data limits. This in itself makes the service one of the most generous free VPNs around. Whether Opera will continue to offer this level of service is, of course, anyone’s guess.

Five VPN server locations are available – Canada, the US, Germany, the Netherlands, and VPN servers in Singapore. This is more limited that most commercial VPN services, but hey… it’s free! It also covers a good selection of popular VPN server locations, although the UK is conspicuously missing.

This means that you will not be able to use Opera to watch iPlayer. Unfortunately, those wanting to access the US version of Netflix are also out of luck… when I tried, Netflix successfully detected that I was running “a proxy” and refused to play. However, this VPN is able to unblock Youtube videos that are restricted in your region.

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Security and Privacy

Jurisdiction

Opera Software ASA is a Norwegian company with offices in Poland, Sweden and China. As of November 2016, however, it is mainly owned by a Chinese consortium based in Hong Kong and headed by billionaire businessman Zhou Yahui. Where this leaves the "VPN," and under which jurisdiction it operates under, is very unclear.

Opera Software ASA sold the consumer browser division to the Chinese consortium, but this does not appear to include the "VPN" infrastructure which, as far as we can tell, remains in Opera Software ASA's hands. But Yahui Zhou has served as the company's Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer since June 2016...

Although rated 100 out of 100 in Freedom House’s Freedom in the World 2023 report, Norway is a member of the US-led Nine Eyes spying alliance and performs extensive domestic surveillance. All ISPs and telecoms companies are required to store records of metadata and web browsing histories for six months, although it is not clear if this applies to VPN services.

China is very keen on restricting its citizen's access to the open internet, and polices domestic dissent through monitoring online forums and social media platforms. Despite many suspicions, however, there is no evidence that it has any interest in listening in on the internet traffic of international internet users.

Hong Kong has traditionally enjoyed a very free and open internet, although tensions with a Chinese government keen to exert greater control over the ex-British territory raises suspicions that it may be subject to increased surveillance from the mainland.

Just to confuse matters further, the privacy statement for non-EU members refers to "Opera Unite Pte. Ltd. ('Opera'), an Opera group company" which is based in Singapore....

Privacy Policy and Logs

The "Browser VPN" part of Opera's privacy policy simply states that:

"When you use our built-in VPN service, we do not log any information related to your browsing activity and originating network address."

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Technical security

OperaVPN is proxy, not a VPN service. Connections are secured using HTTPS, the encryption scheme which protects sensitive websites, making OperaVPN an HTTPS proxy. Because it is based on Chromium, the Opera browser supports TLS 1.3. This is the latest version of the protocol, and it is reasonable to assume that the VPN also uses TLS 1.3.

There is little in the way of support for the VPN feature, although it is so simple to use that it hardly needs it. If for any reason you do get stuck, you can ask questions on the Opera forums.

How to setup OperaVPN

Download and install Opera VPN.

Opera VPN review | A free service, but, it'll cost your privacy (4)

Once the software is installed, you must enable the VPN feature by going to Menu -> Privacy & security -> VPN -> Enable VPN. Note that I had an old version of Opera installed, and needed to uninstall it and reinstall the latest version in order for this option to become available.

Opera VPN review | A free service, but, it'll cost your privacy (5)

Using the VPN is then just a matter of clicking on the “VPN” label to the left of the Search/URL bar, selecting a server location, and clicking “On”

It is worth noting that the VPN feature looks very similar to the SurfEasy browser extension (although this should hardly come as a surprise). Unlike that extension, however, the VPN bundled free with Opera does not have a 500MB data limit.

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Other platforms

Opera has removed it's Android VPN and iOS VPN apps from their respective stores. Unlike the desktop feature included in the browser, these were are true VPN apps. But this is academic as they are no longer available.

If you are an android user and you are looking for something similar to Opera, check out our VPN browsers for Android article for a list of alternatives.

Alternatively, if you are an iOS user, you may want to check out our free VPNs for iOS list. These services are slightly different to VPN browsers like Opera VPN, however, they route all the traffic from your iOS device through an encrypted tunnel which is more secure.

Performance (Speed, DNS leak and WebRTC tests)

Speed tests were performed on a 50Mbps/3Mbps UK broadband connection using TestMy.net.

Opera VPN review | A free service, but, it'll cost your privacy (6)

These results are pretty darn good, especially when you consider that the service is free! Color me impressed!

Opera VPN review | A free service, but, it'll cost your privacy (7)

WebRTC leak protection is now built-in. This is great!

(Video) Stop using VPNs for privacy.

DNS resolution is performed using Google DNS servers located in the same country as the VPN server you are connected to. So when connected to a USA VPN server, DNS resolution is also performed using US DNS servers. This is good for geo-spoofing.

From a privacy perspective, as far as Google is concerned your DNS requests will appear to come from Opera (rather than your real IP address).

Final thoughts

Free is everyone’s favorite price, and in many ways, Opera’s free “VPN” delivers a fantastic service (although it is really a proxy for the browser, not a VPN). Unlike most free VPN services, it is both unlimited (no data limits) and fast. For those simply wishing to bypass censorship, geospoof their location, or protect their browsing while using public WiFi hotspots, Opera may hit just the spot.

It is not, however, a good choice for anyone who uses a VPN to protect their privacy, wants to use a VPN for Netflix, or who wants to use a VPN for torrenting.

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FAQs

What is the catch of Opera VPN free? ›

Using Opera VPN's free tier limits your choice of servers, however, and the service only routes your Opera browser traffic through the VPN connection—nothing else is protected. Free users can also only select servers in broad areas—Europe, Asia, and the Americas.

Is Opera free VPN legit? ›

Opera VPN is not a safe or trustworthy service.

It is not even a full VPN, despite its misleading claims. That said, Opera VPN does come with some positives. Aside from being free, it is easy to use, offers unlimited bandwidth, and can even work to unblock American Netflix.

Why does Opera free VPN not work? ›

If your security software is okay with Opera, check your browser for any extensions. Sometimes ad blockers and other browser extensions interfere with VPNs. If you've recently added an extension to your browser, try disabling it and seeing if your VPN will work.

How to enable free VPN in Opera? ›

On the left panel of the Opera setting's page, you will see “Privacy & Security. Click on that to access and activate the Opera browser VPN. Scroll down to “VPN” section. Check the Enable VPN box and this will activate VPN in Opera.

Which is the best free VPN? ›

6 Free VPNs of 2023
  • Proton VPN: Best for Enhanced Anonymity.
  • hide.me: Best for Leak Protection.
  • Windscribe: Best for Unlimited Device Connection.
  • VPN Unlimited: Best for Lifetime Protection.
  • CyberGhost: Best for Ease of Use.
  • Hotspot Shield: Best for Streaming.

Who owns Opera browser? ›

In 2016, the company changed ownership when a group of Chinese investors purchased the web browser, consumer business, and brand of Opera Software ASA. The remaining assets were renamed as the Otello Corporation.

How much is Opera VPN? ›

Serious privacy & protection. Browse safely with Free VPN, or protect your entire device for just $3.99 per month with VPN Pro.

Is Opera more secure than Chrome? ›

Opera GX is a version of the Opera browser built specifically for gamers. It claims that Chrome is no match for its secure browsing features and so it's considerably safer and more secure than Chrome.

Is Opera VPN safe for banking? ›

It is safe for banking transactions, provided you use a VPN. In fact, it is not advisable to access banking websites without using VPN. And, it is always good to follow some advice: Use a separate browser for accessing only banking websites.

How do I know Opera VPN is working? ›

Testing the VPN connection

There's a simple way to test if the VPN connection is working. First, turn off the VPN and go to whatismyipaddress.com. The results should not only show your current IP address, but also the location of your IP address. Next, turn on the VPN and go back to the same site.

Which browser has built in VPN? ›

10 Best VPN Browsers That Come With Built-in VPN Features (August 2023)
  • Aloha Browser: reliable VPN browser that hides IP addresses, blocks ads, and encrypts browser data.
  • Opera browser: one of the first VPN browsers that encrypts data through AES-256-bit encryption.
Aug 1, 2023

How do I activate free VPN on Opera iPhone? ›

To access Opera's free VPN on your iPhone, all you need to do is follow these steps:
  1. Open Opera on your iPhone. (Note, you will need iOS 12 or later.)
  2. Go to the Menu icon (the three horizontal lines) in the bottom-right corner.
  3. Select VPN directly at the top of the menu.
  4. You can then choose your region location.
Apr 12, 2023

Is it safe to use Opera browser? ›

Is Opera browser safe? Yes, Opera is considered to be a secure browser. It has a built-in VPN, ad & malware blocker, and password manager. Besides, you can spice it up with any extension from the Chrome Store.

Is there a completely free VPN for iPhone? ›

ProtonVPN - A truly unlimited free VPN for iPhone and iOS. One of the most trusted and reliable free iOS VPNs – with servers in three countries. AtlasVPN - A great all-around free VPN for iPhone and iOS devices. You get 5GB of free service with access to free servers in three countries.

Does Opera VPN track you? ›

Your connection to our secure VPN servers remains private and our no-log policy ensures that your browsing activity is never recorded or logged, making your browsing strictly your own business.

Does Opera hide VPN? ›

Yes, the Opera VPN will spoof your IP address and hide your location, but unlike a real VPN, it won't actually establish an encrypted connection between your computer and the internet.

Is Opera GX actually good? ›

In my opinion, Opera GX is an excellent choice for: Gamers of all types and for all preferences. Anyone looking for a highly customizable web browser. Users who want a fast browser.

How does Opera GX make money? ›

Partnerships with OEMs, OS manufacturers, and UI owners: Opera signs service contracts and licenses its applications to Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), Operating System manufacturers, and User Interface owners. The company also charges for customer service, upgradation of rights, and new releases.

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